Thursday, October 27, 2011

A long awaited birthday

So when we were in the process (doesn't the adoption process always seem to need italics??) we were introduced to our kids with the traditional email with photos, etc and brief sum up of their stats.  "Brother and sister, ages 2 and 1"  But as time went on and we kept going through the process we began to suspect that Canaan was a little older than 2, but there was no record of his birth so we were planning to give him a birthdate in February, which would put him turning 4 right after Judah since they were about the same size and developmental stage.  It would also mean that we got to celebrate Canaan birthday with him, since their homecoming was planned for December.  Then, we got the email that his birthday had to make him 4 right then (and it was already November), so we gave him a birthday in October-- mostly what this meant for us was that we had to prepare Judah that Canaan would be older--by 2 months, but still, older.  What this meant for Canaan was that when we picked him up (on Jared's birthday in December) he came home to celebrate Judah's birthday, then Elijah's the next month, then his cousin's, then a slow succession of everyone else's birthdays over the next months until, at long last, on October 20th his birthday finally arrived.  Oh how he anticipated his day.  He has been excited about it, angry about it, pouty about it, ecstatic about it, confused about it, sad about it, overjoyed, ridiculous, funny...everything he could have been over these last months...and then it arrived!!!

He enjoyed his day.  He reveled in it.  He was so overwhelmed that he would get really quiet and a little embarrassed when people would congratulate him.  He wanted to be the center of attention for almost a year and when it arrived, he didn't know what to do with all the was pretty cute.  I'll give you a lengthy line of pictures to peruse...

One other thing I wanted to say on this topic was the change I've seen in my boy since his birthday.  It's not often that we, as parents, can pin point the exact moment of development in our kids.  Most of the time it's so gradual.  But with Canaan, his birthday released something in him that he was holding on to.  I don't know if there was some reservation because he felt that we didn't love him as much as all of his birthday celebrating siblings...or that he harbored some resentment or anger--he never expressed this...but I wonder just the same because, after his birthday, he has been a different child.  He is much more expressive with his emotions.  When he falls, even just a bump or teeny scratch, he runs to me to tell me and wants me to rub it or kiss it--he never did this before.  There are a lot of other little differences that I won't list, but the gist of it all is that I don't know what was loosed in my boy, but I love it.  It's progress in a very measurable way.  It is showing me that, given time, our children will become convinced that they are ours and we are just takes time...and birthdays...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

grateful for defiance

I've been thinking about this post for a while and just never have the time to get it written out.

That seems to be common for our life these days.  My work piles up on me at lightening speed.  Just when I think I've got a handle on it, I turn around and see that while I've been working, the path behind has cluttered up again!  And it's not that the children don't help, they do.  We teach them to work.  But some weeks it just seems that our time has been filled with all work and no play.  We can't have THAT!  They are awfully messy children as well--they pick up, but they throw things around first.  If anyone has great ideas at how to teach the un-cluttering mindset, please share!  I have no ideas and I'm afraid they all come by it pretty naturally as their mother is scatterbrained and inconsistent and jumps from task to task setting a terrible example.  We have a house FULL of starters and I think Jared is the only finisher among us.  Povero Jared!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  These days, when we give the children lists of tasks we hear a chorus of groans before they get to their chores (if you are Judah you collapse into a whiney heap, but thankfully there is only one Judah :-) )  Normal, right?  What is noteworthy about this is that for months after Canaan and Eden came home, they practiced (for the most part) absolute obedience.  Not a word of grumbling, but no smile either.  Just hopped to the task at hand.  Directly and with no discussion.  Like robots.  The other kids would be arguing a little, complaining a lot, basically expressing whatever opinions they had over the situation--not Canaan and Eden.   I noticed the tendency in other things as well.  When showering, they didn't wipe their eyes even if shampoo got in them...ever.  They just took it, without comment or expression. (so I would, of course, wipe their eyes for them) When I would comb out Eden's hair, not a peep.  When they fell, they said nothing.  When Canaan got his first shots he didn't make a sound.  Nothing.  And he had received around six shots.   At first I was tempted to pat him on the back for all his 'toughness' but then I saw his eyes.  He was almost completely disengaged.  He had shut down.  Removed himself.  And it would take him hours to come back to interacting again.  Scary.

As they have progressed, they have loosened up.  The last time Canaan got shots (one teeny little shot), he was thrashing and freaking out so much that it was hard for me to hold him.  Transformation.  Eden whines and cries every time she gets her hair combed out.  Amazing.  Most times, when I ask them to stop what they are doing to pick up or something like that, they let out a groan.  Humorous.  Occasionally Eden has even told me 'no' and has a mini two year old fit.  And I love it all.  I mean, in the moment the groaning is frustrating and opposing what your mother says needs a bit of discipline, but overall,  I love it.  It means their hearts are softer.  It means they trust us so much more.  It means they understand that they can express how their child-hearts feel without fear or loss.

If a bit of defiance means that my child is learning to trust that I will love him in spite of his bad choices, bring it on.   If she needs to whine about her hair just so she can be reminded that I will take care of her even when it hurts, so be it.

And I pray that this is just a precursor...preparing them and softening them for the day when the greatest and best Love makes their hearts complete.  Isn't that a mother's job?  What a blessing it is.